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Jack O’Lantern Spectacular

It is good to be back, friends!  After a short break of getting into the oh-no-back-to-school mode, it’s nice to be writing again!  There are so many places I want to talk about!  And, time is of the essence for this particularly illuminating post.

It’s probably no surprise that I love all things holiday! If there’s a way to celebrate a season, I’m in!  But, I am too cowardly to enjoy Halloween Haunted Houses.  While I can appreciate a teeny weeny amount of scare, I prefer Fall events that feature the changing and falling of leaves, hot cider, pumpkins, cool temps, and lots of lights!  That’s why I am super excited to share my recent trip to the Jack O’ Lantern Spectacular in Louisville, KY.

I’ve been trying to go to this event for three years, and life keeps getting in the way!  Not this year!  And it was worth the wait.  Think five million pumpkins (okay, more like five thousand), themed music, lights in trees, a dark forest (well, it’s more like a dark park), and a cool, autumn breeze.  Just what the season calls for.

As you journey through the woods, you will see a variety of carved pumpkins: scary, happy, dopey, sad, angry, silly, and more; it’s pumpkins galore.  There are also themed sections which showcase professionally carved pumpkins that truly are works of art.  A few of my favorite sections included Fairy Tales, Edgar Allan Poe, Mother Goose, and Inspiring Figures.  It’s pretty cool- the music changes with each section as well.

If you want to check out the Jack O’ Lantern Spectacular, you have a couple options.  You could drive down, arrive by 7 pm, spend a couple hours, and drive home.  Or, you could make it an overnight.  That’s what we did.  I’m such a fan of Louisville.  We stayed in NuLu– an area full of cute shops, restaurants, and coffee shops.  In fact, our favorite restaurant, the Mayan Cafe (local, seasonal Mayan food), was just across the street from our Airbnb.  We also stumbled onto a new Vietnamese restaurant, Chick’n & Mi, that served, hands down, one of my favorite pork ramen dishes. Trust me, I’m still dreaming about those noodles.

So whether it’s this season or next, be sure to make the drive down to Lousiville for the Jack O’ Lantern Spectacular.  The show runs daily from dusk to 11 p.m., during the week (Sunday-Thursday), and closes at midnight on Friday & Saturday.  You can find out about buying tickets here.  

 Tips:

  • Wear tennis shoes or boots (boots if it’s been raining).
  • Speaking of rain, you can still go if it’s drizzling.
  • Most of the path is paved, but it is dark.
  • The line gets long; show up early.
  • Take your time- even if that means going against the crowd.  You want to see both sides.
  • Grab some hot cider or cocoa first.

GO THERE (Louisville, KY)!  TRY THAT (Jack O’ Lantern Spectacular)! 

EXPERIENCE

Kayaking on the Little Miami River

Paddlefest was last weekend on the Ohio River and the turnout was huge!  If you saw any pictures and you’re curious about kayaking, there are some easy ways to get started!  No equipment needed.  Or, if you’re trying to make the most of summer before the kids go back to school, you might be looking for some end of summer adventure and family time!  And, it’s hot in August so why not get out on the water to stay cool?

I’m not a complete novice when it comes to kayaking; I’ve kayaked a few times, but not too much locally. I’ve been wanting to kayak more, but wasn’t sure how to get started.  It was actually some students who pointed me to Scenic River Canoe Excursions where I was fortunate enough to try a 6-mile excursion on the Little Miami River.  Scenic River Canoe Excursions makes it so easy!  They provide the kayak (single or tandem), life jacket, and transportation to the drop off location.  If you’d rather try canoeing or tubing, those are provided as well.  Personally, I find kayaking more stable than canoeing.  Granted, I’ve only canoed twice , but both times I flipped our canoe and we all ended up swimming.  I think I have balance issues!  🙂 And, if you should tip, a kayak is so much easier to climb back into than a canoe!  Trust me!  And if I can get back in, you can get back in!  But that won’t happen.  At Scenic River, the kayaks are sit-on-top kayaks which I prefer.

Scenic River provides three trip options:

  1. Terrell’s Short Trip- 2 miles:  super relaxed, about 45-60 minutes, easy (great for beginners)
  2. Fletcher’s Mid Trip- 6 miles:  a bit more challenging, about 2-3 hours, good exercise and plenty of places to pull over and swim if you’d like
  3. Isabella’s Long Trip- 10 miles: reservations required, about 4-6 hours, leaves in the morning (I think I want a little more experience before trying this one)

Remember, with all of these, you’re going downstream so you can work as hard or as little as you’d like!  And, unless you’re doing the 10 mile trip, the bus loads up every 15 minutes or so which is perfect timing.  

While we were kayaking, we saw a group of friends and family tubing down the river, each holding the same rope.  It was sweet; everyone was laughing, talking, and enjoying some fun in the sun without having to do any paddling.  If you’d like to tube, try the 2-mile option at Scenic River.  Whatever option you chose, there’s plenty of wildlife, little rapids, and beach areas for resting, swimming, and rope swinging.  I got giddy excited when we hit each of the little rapids; I’m sure these don’t technically count as rapids, but it felt like I was a true adventure seeker while never being in any real danger.

I know that there are plenty of places to kayak in and around Cincinnati; some on the Little Miami and some on local lakes and parks.  You can check out the following: Lake Isabella, Miami Whitewater Forest (they have hydro bikes), Sharon Woods, and Winton Woods.  Most of these Hamilton County Parks listed above have kayaks, paddle boats, stand up paddle boards, and more.

There are places to rent and use kayaks in many areas of the city.  This is something everyone can do- it doesn’t matter if you’ve never been kayaking or you’re a pro.  And I can’t wait to go again with Scenic River! I’m trying to make those summer days count. As I’ve said many times, I truly believe experiences matter more than things!  This is a perfect experience to share with family and friends.

GO THERE (Scenic River Canoe Excursions)!  TRY THAT (Kayaking)!